Overriding initial impression: the wireless internet access at the Moat House hotel isn’t high-speed, or free (as it is in many US hotels). It’s expensive, low-speed wireless access; 69 pounds for a week, and I feel like I’m back in the days of modem connections, thrumming my fingers while every webpage loads, going off to wash my face while the e-mail downloads. But there doesn’t seem to be any choice.
My flights went well enough to a point. American Airlines’ LAX-London connection, leaving around 9 p.m. PDT, provided a meager dinner and an adequate (though non-cooked) breakfast; the seating in coach, on the Boeing 777, was relatively non-claustrophobic, with screens on each seatback displaying route information or videos; and I managed a few hours awkward sleep before the breakfast serving, around 5 a.m. LA time (1 p.m. UK time), as passengers opened their window covers to let the sun shine in as the western coast of Ireland appeared through layers of midlevel clouds.
Heathrow is a maze… not amazing; a maze. I thought I had plenty of time between landing and boarding for the connecting flight to Glasgow–an hour–but walking the maze, waiting for trams, taking trams, standing in customs lines, walking some more, and then finding the departure display for my flight advising only ‘delayed until 1450′ with no gate information… amounted to an hour delay before we did actually board (with yet another tram between the departure gate and the faraway pad where the plane actually waited) and then another hour of waiting for a tug to move the plane, and rush-hour clearance to take-off… resulted in a 2-hour later arrival in Glasgow than I’d anticipated. I do try to be philosophical about these things; I always have a book to pass the time, so the time isn’t ‘wasted’; but I don’t travel often enough (only 2 or 3 times a year) to take these things entirely in stride, and I can’t help but wonder if such inefficiency is an indication that the terrorists, to some degree anyway, haven’t already won.
I’m at the Moat House hotel, adjacent to the convention center, and checked in around 8 p.m. local. I unpacked, checked out the wifi, downloaded the past day’s e-mail, then wandered around the lobby for a while. A fan room around a corner was full of fans drinking ale — as the con newsletter #3 described — but I didn’t see anyone I knew (but then, I don’t actually know more than a few fans, not really being a fan, myself, in public anyway, that is), and so sat in the Moat House’s 5-star restaurant to have a dinner of blackpudding and monkfish, though I must say for a 5-star restaurant I might have expected them to bring me at least a glass of water, not to mention the glass of wine I’d ordered, before I was half-way through my first course.
It’s been a long day.
Tomorrow it begins.